Within the next two months, the US Department of Energy is expected to prepare guidance for two funding programs for hydroelectric power
Hydropower accounts for 31.5% of the overall renewable electricity generation in the United States and approximately 6.3% of total U.S. electricity generation, according to the US Department of Energy.
US hydroelectric plants deserve some recognition: By the US Energy Information Administration’s estimates, the average US hydroelectric facility has been operating for more than 60 years. To address these aging facilities and prevent the risk of losing well-paying clean energy jobs, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides funding to keep these facilities online.
Section 40333 of the BIL amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to establish a hydropower incentive program for old facilities—specifically, ones built before June 10, 1920. This new program under Section 247, Maintaining & Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives, provides $553.6 million in incentive payments to support and enhance existing hydropower facilities through capital improvements directly related to three main areas:
For hydropower facilities that are less than 100 years old, the BIL also provides $75 million in incentive payments for owners or operators of existing hydroelectric facilities that make capital investments to improve their efficiency by at least 3%. Section 40332 of the BIL authorized funding for Section 243 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005: Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives Program. Payments cannot exceed 30% of the costs of the applicable capital improvement. A single qualified hydroelectric facility may only receive one incentive payment of no more than $5 million from this program within a single fiscal year.
Additionally, the BIL provides $125 million to fund Section 242 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program. This program provides incentive payments to qualified hydroelectric facilities for electricity generated and sold. The U.S. Department of Energy announced in September the distribution of $13.5 million in incentive payments to 55 hydroelectric facilities through the program.
Utilities with hydropower plants should consider the following for both Section 243 and 247 applications:
31.5% hydro and 6.3% total renewable figures: 242 program https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/us-department-energy-distributes-135-million-support-record-number-hydroelectric
Dam safety and resiliency projects info: https://www.energy.gov/sites/default/files/2022-08/RFIListeningSession_FINAL_CLEAN.pdf